Few years ago, we would have thought the bigger the phone, the better, as phones grew from four inches to over six inches but overtime, the beloved bezels that made devices look big became a problem, an old feature making our phones too large that they needed to be gotten rid of.
Getting rid of bezels meant manufacturers can give devices more screen space, achieve the 18:9 aspect ratio without increasing device sizes and it looked like that was the theme of 2018 as almost every major phone launched had smaller bezels. Samsung already perfected its edge to edge display by getting rid of side bezels.
The bottom bezels have also been reduced to the barest minimum by using onscreen navigation, fingerprint sensors have been moved to the back or side, and also having chip on film technology implemented, leaving us with the top bezels, the home of sensors, selfie camera, speaker and sometimes led flash.
In order to achieve maybe 95% body to screen ratio, manufacturers have to solve the top bezels problems. The three leading features that are being employed to accomplish this are; Notch, Pop up and in-display.
The controversial display feature unveiled by Essential P1 and made famous by Apple in the iPhone X has become widely accepted by many users and manufacturers alike as a solution to the massive top bezel problem.
The notch is a cutout at the top of the phone’s screen. With the notch display feature, manufacturers try to place the speakers and cameras at the top centre of the phone eliminating the other side bezels so as to make more room for the screen.
“Smartphones are quickly moving towards smaller bezels and larger aspect ratios. On these devices, display cutouts are a popular way to achieve an edge-to-edge experience while providing space for important sensors on the front of the device.” Megan Potoski, Product Manager, Android System UI
Since its introduction, many Android phones have copied the design, and also Google now has built-in notch support on its new Android OS versions allowing games and apps to be used even in the notched mode
“Having a notch display provides the optimum solution for maximising screen area without compromising on the critical hardware at the top, such as the Front Camera, Receiver Speaker, RGB Sensor and LED Indicator. This design display allows us to put a 6.2-inch display panel on to the body of a 5.5-inch smartphone,” says Dinesh Sharma, director, mobile product, ASUS India
The notched design has been modified multiple times with Oppo, Realme, OnePlus and Vivo using a simpler design called the waterdrop notch that supports only the selfie camera, giving more screen room at the top.
Like almost every other feature or technology introduced, consumers are bound to get tired very soon, and manufacturers will have to provide another alternative as they race towards a larger screen to body ratio.
The Pop-up camera feature aims to give consumers a full display device without the need for the notch. To be sincere, alot of people hate the notch design and many of those who loved it only did because it was on an iPhone.
The Pop Up feature eliminates the need to keep cameras and sensors on a notch as they move them somewhere else, in this case, to a slider mechanism at the top of the phone.
This feature was first seen on the Vivo Nex S, a device with 91.24 per cent screen to body ratio, according to Vivo. The selfie camera pops up when the camera icon is tapped. Also, the Oppo Find X also employs this feature as it moved the camera too as Oppo claims the screen to body ratio is 92.5%. The earpiece, proximity sensor, and light sensor have all been placed underneath the screen.
There have been arguments against the Pop up feature as many claims the movable parts are susceptible to faults, can take up dust and also, makes the device not to be water resistant. Those these complaints were usually directed at Oppo since its Pop-up feature moved the top part of the phone up
Andrew Martonik of Android Central noted that “People want smartphones that have a larger display, but in a proportionally smaller device. They don’t want bezels, apparently, and have a disdain for display notches. Yet they don’t want the compromises of an oddly-positioned camera, small speakers or missing sensors. What’s the result? We return to movable components on phones. A feature that used to be a core tenet of “advanced” feature phones circa 2004, now modernized and automated to bring us the hardware features we both don’t want to see but also can’t live without.”
Notched devices are still being churned out but very soon, I believe manufacturers will find a solution to the initial problems with the Pop up feature or possibly move to the in-display feature.
Keep your fingers crossed as there may be more devices using this feature next year.
Among all the three features, the in-display feature stands the highest chance of achieving the highest screen to body ratio. In fact it is now widely used alongside the two other features.
The in-display feature packs the fingerprint sensor, camera, speakers etc. and puts them under the display panel of the smartphone, thus removing the need for bezels, notch and pop-ups.
This feature is widely used by Vivo and Oppo. The Vivo Apex uses an in-display Fingerprint sensor that covers half the screen size, alongside an in-display sound speaker. The in-display fingerprint sensor has already been adopted by Huawei, Xiaomi, and OnePlus, and are now getting common.
For the speakers, the in-display speakers emit sound using the screen. Samsung and LG are already keying into this as there have been reports on the two powerhouses deveoping sound emitting OLED displays.
Vivo uses Screen SoundCasting Technology that creates a more balanced audio while also requiring less battery to send out vibrations from the display itself. Samsung’s Galaxy series for 2019 are being tipped to come with a piezoelectric speaker.
The idea behind the indisplay camera will be to fit the camera under the display and how to find where to put it. The in-display camera feature is already work in progress with the Oppo R19 being tipped to be the first phone that will debut it.
Honestly, using the in-display fingerprint sensor, sound emitting screens and in-display camera together will truly allow manufacturers to achieve 100% screen to body ratio.